Where to begin. I have to be mindful of how many pictures I upload this week, there are so many to choose from 🙂
We left Coober Pedy and headed for Marla (SA). Another overnighter, in another little town again in the middle of nowhere. We had heard that it was ‘green’ and that there was a pool also. We were pretty excited to hear this, so far we hadn’t seen much grass of any description and the thought of letting Frankie go wild on the soft green stuff … well, I was pretty happy. HOWEVER a small patch of burnt itchy scratchy white and green ‘something’ does not a grass make ! The pool, well the pool was only for ‘house’ guests and not campers. Oh well, it wasn’t that clean anyway.
The caravan/camping ground was attached to a roadhouse which was pretty ordinary. It was clean enough I guess, but when I went to get the girls a bucket of hot chips to share and the man behind the counter looks sweaty and the lady serving the chips says ‘I’m not sure how long they’ve been there love, you can try them though’.. you can guess how I felt.. Wayne’s fault of course ! (The lady made them fresh chips – YAY). Next to the roadhouse there was a tiny art gallery filled with canvas paintings of aboriginal artworks. They were pretty amazing, but no one there to tell us the stories behind the painting and also the artists themselves. We wanted to buy one, and had picked 3 to choose from, however we couldn’t agree and then we decided we would wait until we got to the NT. Not much else to report about Marla, we showered, had dinner and slept..
We crossed the border sometime the following morning and we were headed for Erldunda. We called ahead to book a site, because it’s a RESORT after all and I didn’t want to miss out. . I’ve since learnt that ‘they’ whoever ‘they’ are, use the word RESORT very loosely. I guess if it has a licence to sell alcohol and has a pool they can call themselves a resort. It’s so disheartening, but I’m learning. The girls were actually allowed to swim in the pool though this time, and they did… freezing! Another overnighter and up bright and early the next day for YALARA..
Yalara (Uluru) – Ayers Rock R E S O R T . .
We had previously met a Victorian couple (so many VIC people traveling too, way more than any other states)who had just been to see the ‘rock’. They told us that when they drove into Yalara they thought they saw Uluru but were mistaken, the mass they thought was the rock was actually Mt Connor. I couldn’t believe that you could mistake it, but even though we were armed with this information as we drove along all of a sudden we see this massive, huge rock formation that just HAS to be Uluru – doesn’t it ? We were a little unsure, but then firmly came to the decision the closer we got, that NO it wasn’t Uluru, but Fooluru (as we’ve since been told).Amazing all the same, and on the opposite side of the lookout, you can climb a small sand dune and see a salt lake as far as your eyes can see. This was when we all started to get excited. Uluru was really our first major stop and we had essentially been driving for weeks to get here. Driving along for another hour or so and then our of nowhere you see it. Words can not describe the feeling, the largeness of it, the colour, the awe you feel. It takes your breath away.. I’m not sure if I understood how majestic Uluru was before I had seen it in person. I’m still having a hard time trying to explain why everyone I know MUST go there at least once. It is just a rock, but it’s so much more. It’s intimidating and full of history/culture/spirits.. We couldn’t wait to see it up close ! But first.. a picture of Mount Connor & The Salt Lakes (also pretty amazing).
It was late in the afternoon by the time we got to Yalara, so we drove to Ayres Rock Campground and set up. I was so relaxed, almost immediately which must be unusual behaviour because Wayne commented on my ‘change of attitude’ straight away. I don’t know why, but I felt relaxed and was really happy to be there. We took the girls swimming, hat a chat with a couple of other families that we had met at Coober Pedy and basically just settled in for our first night. Silly me put something on FB about being here and my cousin, who had no idea the effect it would have on me, mentioned very breezily in a message to ‘watch out for the mice when you sleep, they can get in your van’. My relaxed and carefree attitude went out the caravan door in a second. I tried to be all ‘ha ha ha’ on FB, but really I was scared. I made Wayne plug the holes in the sink, remove everything outside, I even googled ‘how the hell can mice get into my bed’ and I found out many ways.. much to my horror. Wayne put up with me for a bit, but then I could see him getting a little tired of my rantings, so I had to calm it down. (for the record, I did not see one ‘cute little aussie bush mouse’ my whole entire stay) ! I didn’t sleep much either..
We were up early the next morning and drove out to ULURU, about 30 mins from the campground. We were just captivated.. We had decided on doing the Base Walk with a Ranger guide as it was pram friendly and went for 2 hours. We figured the girls could handle that (me too). Ranger Tim was awesome. He knew so much, and had been working as a ranger in the National Park for 16 years. I don’t know where to begin sharing everything he told us, there’s so much history and he was very passionate about the reasons behind preserving the rock (and that means NO CLIMBING PLEASE) We weren’t even considering climbing the rock, and to be honest I can’t remember when I even knew that the aboriginal people would prefer you not to climb it. It was just something that I knew you didn’t do. A lot of people climb the rock though, and the question was asked ‘if the aboriginal people don’t want you to climb it, why are you able to’. Simple response really. They give us a choice. They want you to visit the cultural centre, learn about what the rock means to them, how it needs to be preserved and protected and the more our ‘footprint’ makes its mark, the less sustainable it becomes. Then, after you know all this information it’s up to us to make the decision. Do we climb it or not ? Pretty simple to me… NOT. We were amazed at how many people we met at the campground that were planning on, or had just climbed it. One little boy asked me if I had climbed it, and I said No, he said ‘yeh, it’s pretty hard’ and his parents were laughing with him. I just said that’s not why I didn’t climb it.. I wanted to say it is disrespectful and it’s not ours, but really… everyone has a choice and everyone is different.
Our girls were completely awestruck.. for the first 1/2 hour or so.. then I think the novelty wore off a little. I suppose their tiny minds take everything in so rapidly, while Wayne and I are a little slower these days, absorbing information ! Sarah was tired after the walk, Olivia is like a little energiser rabbit and could go on all day, and Frankie slept through most of the tour. It was pretty amazing. We went to the Cultural Centre which is also very informative and Olivia sat down and drew her interpretation of snakes etc. Wayne chatted to a few elder aboriginal women who were painting outside and Olivia wanted me to buy a painting that was $7,500.00. Sorry Lulu, no can do ! Pretty amazing day..
After spending a few hours at Uluru, we went and had some lunch then Lulu and I had a date with a Camel called Spinafex !
We were so excited, and a little nervous. Lulu and I were going on a Camel ride, at sunset in the Desert. Wayne was taking one for the team and stayed behind with Frankie and Sarah (he went to the rock again with the girls and took a million pictures again). The Camels are huge and the noises they make when you mount them are pretty horrific, but thankfully we got a good one, he was nice and placid. About 10 mins in Lulu turned to me and said ‘mum, I’ve lost my fear – have you?’… and then about 30 mins in ‘mum, thankyou so much for this, it’s amazing’. It was.. and I’m not sure if it’s because I was with my beautiful big girl, creating a memory or because of the location.. Both !
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
I’ll be honest, until we started talking about the places we were going to see on our travels, I’d never heard of The Olgas. Kata Tjuta means ‘many heads’ and there are 36 separate domes and the tallest is actually 2oo mtrs higher than Uluru if you can believe that ? They are pretty spectacular. Unfortunately we didn’t get close enough to go walking. We had been to the Rock again in the morning and by this time Frankie was getting tired. We drove there though, and had some lunch and took some pictures. Wayne in particular was amazed..
Aboriginal dance in the town square
We ended up staying a fourth night at Ayers Rock Campground. We had such an awesome time and I’m so glad we drove the many km’s to get there. It’s an experience we’ll never forget and hopefully a memory that the girls will never forget too.
Until next time.. (Kings canyon and Alice Springs).. Traveling Morrells.
ps.. In my time at the campground, I spoke to numerous ladies in the bathrooms, a lovely aboriginal painter/dancer and the women who worked in receptions. I casually snuck in every conversation ‘so, I heard there’s lots of mice here’.. I kept going until I found an answer I was happy with (the lady in reception who told me ‘not this time of year’ it was only THEN that I slept and that was the last night…..